The Truth About The Medical Myths….

February 9, 2008

Go to fullsize imageCame across a light article published in the reputable British Medical Journal December 2007 issue on the common myths in Medicine that have been passed from generations to generations and carried on in our practice as facts!

Below is my edited and shortened version of the original article which I hope you’ll all find useful inofrmation.

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People should drink at least eight glasses of water a day

The advice to drink at least eight glasses of water a day can be found throughout the popular press. One origin may be a 1945 recommendation that stated: A suitable allowance of water for adults is 2.5 litres daily in most instances…the statement could be interpreted as instruction to drink eight glasses of water a day. The complete lack of evidence supporting the recommendation to drink six to eight glasses of water a day is exhaustively catalogued in an invited review by Heinz Valtin in the American Journal of Physiology.

Hair and fingernails continue to grow after death

Johnny Carson even perpetuated this myth with his joke, “For three days after death hair and fingernails continue to grow, but phone calls taper off.

Dehydration of the body after death and drying or desiccation may lead to retraction of the skin around the hair or nails. The skin’s retraction can create an appearance of increased length or of greater prominence because of the optical illusion created by contrasting the shrunken soft tissues with the nails or hair. 

Shaving hair causes it to grow back faster, darker, or coarser

Strong scientific evidence disproves these claims. As early as 1928, a clinical trial showed that shaving had no effect on hair growth.  More recent studies confirm that shaving does not affect the thickness or rate of hair regrowth.  

Reading in dim light ruins your eyesight

Suboptimal lighting can create a sensation of having difficulty in focusing. It also decreases the rate of blinking and leads to discomfort from drying, particularly in conditions of voluntary squinting.  The important counterpoint is that these effects do not persist.

Mobile phones create considerable electromagnetic interference in hospitals

After publication of a journal article citing more than 100 reports of suspected electromagnetic interference with medical devices before 1993, the Wall Street Journal published a front page article highlighting this danger. Since that time, many hospitals banned the use of mobile phones, perpetuating the belief.

At the Mayo Clinic in 2005, in 510 tests performed with 16 medical devices and six mobile telephones, the incidence of clinically important interference was 1.2%.  

We Use only 10% of our Brain

The belief that we use only 10% of our brains has persisted for over a century, despite dramatic advances in neuroscience.  Some sources attribute this claim to Albert Einstein, but no such reference or statement by Einstein has ever been recorded. Evidence from studies of brain damage, brain imaging, localisation of function, microstructural analysis, and metabolic studies show that people use much more than 10% of their brains.  Detailed probing of the brain has failed to identify the “non-functioning” 90%.

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There you go guys…common myths that have been practiced by medical professionals as facts. We continue, for example to recommend patients to drink at least 8 glasses of water but so far based on the evidence…it is limited or nil.

As the author of the article concluded: “Medical practitioners should at least recognise when their practice is based on tradition, anecdote, or art.  Speaking from a position of authority, as physicians do, requires constant evaluation of the validity of our knowledge.

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4 Responses to “The Truth About The Medical Myths….”

  1. maxim Says:

    Thus we are happy that there is a website like yours Doc that aims to enlighten us about medical facts that we could use on a day to day basis. For us lay people, we need to be empowered by knowledge and information. We don’t want to be in this state;

    “If the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch.” -Matthew 15:14

    So, thanks doc.

  2. anita Says:

    could you please make your character bigger and clearer. we can hardly read what you are writing.thanks

  3. Tim Kivi Says:

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  4. Nice article. Last Month I found this web site and wanted to let you know that I have been gratified, going through your site’s posts. I shall be signing up to your RSS feed and might wait for your next post. Cheers, Whitney


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